Utah AG Seeks Review Of Ruling That Says Highway Crosses Are UnConstitutional
April 25, 2011 by Special To Personal Liberty
The nation's highest court has been called upon to clarify the 1st Amendment's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from endorsing one religion over another.
According to The Associated Press, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has asked the United Stated Supreme Court to determine if crosses can be placed along highways to honor law enforcement officials who were killed in the line of duty. Shurtleff's request comes in the wake of a 2010 ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that stated that such crosses were an unConstitutional endorsement of religion.
American Atheists, a group based in Texas, spearheaded a lawsuit against Utah in 2005, arguing that white crosses commemorating deceased highway troopers suggested Utah's preference for Christianity.
The 12-foot-high crosses were first erected in 1998 by the Utah Highway Patrol Troopers, the news source reported. They were paid for by private funds and were approved by the troopers' family members.
The Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian organization, has filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the decision.
"The Establishment Clause does not forbid government actions that appear to be a religious endorsement," said Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the FRC. "Instead, the Establishment Clause forbids government from coercing citizens to support religion. If there is no coercion, there is no Constitutional violation."